Photo by Almos Bechtold from Unsplash
Everyone dreams to be in a healthy and long-term relationship until the difficult days come. It takes a lot of hard work and patience for a relationship to work and maintain long-term. Unfortunately, not everyone is willing to sacrifice for the person they love. Not everyone is ready to compromise when dilemmas come out of nowhere.
It seems that everybody wants the pretty side of love until they face the truth that it isn’t pretty at all. Nowadays, people see a long-term relationship as a luxury or a privilege because not everybody can maintain a relationship for years, or possibly until marriage. As sad as this sounds, this is reality.
The definition of love and romance has drastically changed over the years. Relationships (and the privileges attached to them) have become too easy to obtain and to throw away. The youth today no longer feel the need to endure pain and to understand their partners on a daily basis. To them, long-term relationships only happen to those who are lucky enough to find kind and understanding partners.
There’s no sense of commitment in their relationships, and a for-better-or-for-worse mindset has become obsolete. Young adults these days don’t take seriously the basics of building a healthy, long-term relationship nor are they interested to learn. Love comes at a price, and sometimes people get so drawn to their emotions without putting much thought into their decisions.
Pain is just one of the many consequences of healthy love, but it hurts more when you grow a toxic kind of love. Although relationships aren’t certain, you can learn how to build a healthy long-term relationship together with your partner. If you truly love your partner and want to grow a strong and truthful relationship, you need to make active efforts to take care of your bond.
Unfortunately, it’s extremely hard to build and maintain a healthy relationship in this day and age because of the kind of society we have become. However, don’t fret. Don’t lose all hope yet because it’s not impossible to create your own healthy relationship.
12 TIPS FOR TAKING GOOD CARE OF A LONG-TERM RELATIONSHIP:
FEED IT WITH FAITH, NOT FEAR
Most early (teen) relationships tend to start with a lot of rules and conditions. They give their partners less freedom because of fear. They’re scared of what would happen without rules to ‘discipline’ or ‘regulate’ their partners’ choices. They’re scared to be in a situation where they would be in pain and discomfort. Your fears are valid, but they shouldn’t be an excuse for you to emotionally choke your partner.
These fears need to be catered to by resolving the root issue, and not enabled by tolerating them. A relationship needs to be fed with faith, not fear. Don’t build your relationship with fear of making mistakes or of falling short. Every relationship goes through tough times. It takes faith in yourself, in your partner, and in your relationship to believe that you will surpass every single one of these obstacles. When making decisions, refrain from thinking about what could go wrong and start thinking about what could go right.
If you cultivate fear in your relationship, you project your insecurities and doubts to your partner. This could hurt your boyfriend’s feelings and destroy his self-confidence too. Have faith in your partner and your relationship by letting him makes his own decisions. If you continue to go down this route, you will end up holding him back from his freedom and happiness.
BUILD YOUR RELATIONSHIP ON TRUTH
The beginning of a relationship is the most crucial part. If you build your relationship with lies, it will grow toxic. Lying doesn’t have to be intentional. Just saying you like something even when you don’t is a harmless way to build your relationship on a weak foundation. Both of you need to be honest about your thoughts and feelings. Throughout your relationship, your version of the truth may offend your partner but that’s okay.
It’s better to hear the painful truth from you than from someone else. If your partner is willing to change for the better, then he would use that pain to his advantage. He would prioritize improving himself than feeding his pride. Remember that being kind doesn’t equate to not being honest. Some people think that speaking the truth only destroys their partner’s self-esteem but hurting someone is inevitable in any relationship. Effective communication is critical to successful long-term relationships.
If you withhold information just because you don’t want to hurt your partner, expect anger and resentment to grow in your relationship. You would put your partner in an unfair position if you’re not being straight with him. Leading him on with your lies will only come off as betrayal which would deeply hurt his self-esteem. Even worse, he might also think you see less of him because you wouldn’t think he’s mature enough to handle the truth. By concealing the truth, you can hurt your partner and your relationship in countless ways.
DO EVERYTHING WITH INTENTION
Over the years, your relationship can turn boring. What was once sweet and unpredictable can feel like an ordinary daily routine. When the things you used to do before starting to feel mundane, try to spice them up differently. When you do something, do it because you want the romance to grow. Do it to deepen your love for one another.
Go on dates because you want to spend time with your partner, not only because it’s already scheduled. Travel the world because you want to explore more places with your significant other, not only because it’s on one of your bucket lists. When you do something with intention, you have a motive. You’re determined to grow your relationship into a place that benefits both of you. It shows your sincerity in making the love work.
MAKE ROOM FOR MISTAKES
You are not perfect, and so is your partner. Don’t expect your love to be perfect as well. Your partner should be free to make his choices, and with your guidance and understanding, learn to make you his priority in catering to your feelings. It’s all a matter of managing your expectations and loving the person for who he is, not for what he will become.
If you keep pressuring your partner to always make a choice that won’t upset you, the tendency is he won’t be his authentic self because of fear. Your relationship will go through challenges and tests which further strengthens it. This doesn’t mean you have to tolerate bad behavior. Don’t hostage your partner to a position where he feels like in jail, not in a relationship. There are more rules in your relationship than in school.
This also means learning how to forgive your partner for his flaws. See these mistakes as building blocks to love your partner even more and to deepen your relationship. When you make room for mistakes, it means you make room for improvement. It shows you have faith in your partner, that he will turn over a new leaf.
UNDERSTAND HOW YOUR PARTNER SHOWS HIS LOVE
Many say every one of us has a love language. I think love languages are more specific than the five mentioned. Before you understand the uniqueness of someone expressing his love, you need to be aware that we all have different ways of showing our affection. You may not think his gesture is a big deal or special enough to be counted as a sincere effort but to him, it is.
Don’t base your partner’s capability to show romance according to society’s standards of romance and sweet love on social media. People show their love in different, unique ways. You just need to be grateful enough to appreciate that they are trying. A trying man is greater than a man who doesn’t. The technique here is to practice how to become more appreciative even with the smallest things.
Every relationship has a special language that only the two of them understand. But for couples who have been together for many years, this love language can change. Many would forget how their partner demonstrates their love. Be understanding and study your partner all over again. Appreciate the little things.
INVEST IN THE GROWTH OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP
Investing in your relationship’s growth may be through going on dates, taking advantage of your similarities interests. You go through many experiences by making time for your partner. Don’t stop showing effort to him. By investing, you are showing support to your partner emotionally, morally, and if you have the means, even financially. Help them with their concerns. Some people lose the spark in their relationship. After all, they stop doing things because they like. They start doing things to impress other people outside of their relationship.
Over time in your relationship, both of you may grow too comfortable with one another where you tend to ignore your partner’s feelings or prioritize your selfish preferences. To build and maintain a healthy, long-term bond, there needs to be an acknowledgment of the slight and drastic changes in the relationship. Recognize how it has altered your treatment with one another and respond to it respectfully.
Many relationships fail because they don’t know how to compromise. A relationship isn’t always a 50/50 balance because not all couples are compatible with each other.
Compromise involves patience and understanding. Not everything gets to go your way, so you need to think about your partner’s feelings and needs other than yours.
For example, in a situation where your partner finds it hard to express his feelings, help him feel comfortable to open up. If you don’t feel like cooking for dinner, ask your partner to cook for the both of you (if he’s not busy) and offer to do the dishes afterward. Be your partner’s strength in his weakness and vice versa. Fill in each other’s missing pieces.
DON’T FOCUS ON WINNING THE ARGUMENT
What most people don’t know is nobody really wins in an argument. The secret to resolving a quarrel is to focus on fixing the issue at hand together with your partner. Stop blaming your partner for your dilemma and start acknowledging your shortcomings. Having the last word may feel selfishly pleasing but it doesn’t really solve anything.
When you try so hard to win in a fight regardless if the problem is fixed, you’re missing the point. You’re not angry about your partner, you’re angry about his behavior (the way he acted during dinner). When either of you focuses more on winning the argument, both of you lose while drowning in ego. Therefore, you’re attacking each other when you should be working together to beat the problem at hand. It’s vital to seek a mutually acceptable and beneficial solution right away.
Talk about it like the grown-up adults you are by being the bigger person. Remember not to bring your problems to social media. Don’t drag your relationship to public scrutiny. People have no business sniffing their noses into your relationship, so you shouldn’t be exposing each other’s weaknesses and flaws out to the world either. You deal with your own problems inside closed doors.
HELP YOUR PARTNER GROW
One of the many reasons relationships fail is one doesn’t want to help the other grow further as an individual. Most couples become too drawn in their world that they turn complacent and mediocre in their lives. They forget that they have other commitments and obligations to other people. If your partner deprives you of spreading your wings, there is a clear issue of fear and insecurity.
They’re afraid that maybe their partners will become somebody they’re not, or worse, will fall in love with another. Remember that being in a relationship shouldn’t be an excuse not to chase after your dreams. Your relationship should be the source of your motivation to pursue your career, not the one holding you back.
Being a supportive partner means not making it difficult for your partner to work on his passion while in a relationship. Don’t give him ultimatums because you always want him to be with you. Don’t resort to petty fights when you don’t get what you want when you want it. If you notice that his routine in his career is compromising your relationship, talk to him about it respectfully.
It’s obvious when a couple is still starting out because they can’t seem to be apart. They spend so much time with each other that they begin to neglect their obligations with other people. No matter how close you are, you need some time away from each other. You need time to reflect and enjoy your own company while your partner goes about his day.
When you don’t respect each other’s boundaries, you slowly lose your individuality; your own perspective of the world. You wouldn’t have your sense of conviction and your freedom of choice. Making boundaries is as important as respecting them over time. Also, pay attention to the boundaries he draws for himself.
Give your partner some time and space to be alone, to explore himself. Don’t keep him within your tight grasp like he’s being choked. Being too possessive is no way of showing your love to someone. If he really loves you, he wouldn’t need to be told what to do and what not to do. Being away from your partner is also a test of the trust and integrity in your relationship.
HAVE AN OPEN AND TRUTHFUL COMMUNICATION
When arguments arise, avoid opting for silent treatment. Although we tell ourselves that it’s better to cool down and let the anger subside before saying things we don’t mean, doing this more often would result in the same pain as it would without the silent treatment. Not knowing how your partner feels or not addressing the key problem right away may just be as painful and traumatizing to them.
You can always try telling the truth without any sugarcoating while delivering it in a calm, respectful manner. Don’t raise your voice and don’t bring up past fights just to prove your point. This would only open past wounds and live the pain of yesterday. Beating around the bush will add fuel to the flame, and the damage it will lead to is endless.
Saying potentially hurtful things to your partner, intentionally or unintentionally, is part of the fighting and resolving challenges of any relationship. Remember to be careful with your word choice and your tone of voice. Refrain from cursing and name-calling; doing any of these things is not only immature but is also harmful.
NEVER STOP BEING CURIOUS
Never stop learning about your partner — his beliefs, strengths, quirks, fears, etc. Maintain the curiosity and your longing for your significant other by treating your relationship as its own baby that you need to foster and tend to. Make him feel special and important even after the many years you’ve been through. Don’t allow too much comfort and boredom to overtake the excitement in your relationship.
Treat each other like you used to when you were just starting out. Shower him with surprises and make him feel appreciated. Romance stops when you think there’s nothing more to learn about your partner. There are still numerous, complex layers underneath a person, and you have the rest of your lifetime to get to know these layers. Satisfy that curiosity by doing new things, exploring the world, and talking about topics that you haven’t talked about before. Ask thought-provoking questions and discuss your thoughts.
Not everyone gets to experience the real, healthy type of love. This is because most people don’t respect the natural process of growing a relationship. They fail to realize that every relationship also has its downsides, and you have to be there despite them. Don’t be like those people who get into relationships because all they want are the privileges and the perks of being in one.
It takes kindness and constant communication to know someone from the inside out, much more being in a relationship with that person. There’s nothing sweeter and more rewarding than looking at the eyes of your significant other and seeing your entire future. Don’t waste all the time and love you’ve poured onto one another for a couple of fights that can easily be resolved. If you’re lucky enough to meet the love of your life, do everything you can to take care of your sacred bond.
“The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day.”David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life